For those of you that can cast your mind back to the offices of the 1980s and even the 90s. They tend to conjure images of drab desks, plain walls, and cheap utility furniture all arranged together in a uniform but overly predictable way. Of course, a well-organised office is preferable to working in a messy and jumbled one, but those “typical” office spaces certainly felt stultifying to spend so many hours a day in.
Thankfully, office design and furniture have moved on quite a pace since then, with ideas about using colour and creating more dynamic spaces at the forefront of most companies’ minds. That’s not to say that a wildly colourful or “loud” office space is agreeable to every kind of worker either, as these can be also distracting and problematic for other reasons.
However, there is a reasonable middle ground to be struck to improve general well-being and productivity. Companies can build working environments (or simply add features to their existing ones) to increase comfort and focus by introducing “biophilic” human centric office design features.
So, what does “biophilic” design actually mean?
Essentially, it boils down to bringing the outdoors indoors. For example, introducing plant life into empty spaces of an office, or expanding opportunities to shine natural light into a darker section where multiple people work in a cluster. Although these might sound like simple ideas on paper, the benefits to individual employees can be great. This is because people are naturally attuned to seeing naturalistic features — plush green shrubbery, natural light, wood panelling, living walls etc.
It’s not simply a method to make the office environment appear more pleasant on an aesthetic level, either. Adding plant life can improve concentration levels and decrease mental fatigue thanks to the increases in oxygen levels they provide. And similarly, increased exposure to natural light improves general mood and wellbeing to a large extent. When someone feels easily fatigued by sitting in a stuffy office with fluorescent lighting lined above every corner and corridor of an office, it’s usually not long until they feel the need to head outside and “get some fresh air”. Office design centred around positive biophilic features like the ones mentioned can help to combat this negative feeling.
Adding colour and interest to office design
Colour is also innately linked to this method as well. Being surrounded by bright or otherwise warm colours is a positive mood lifter, as opposed to constant exposure to dull white walls and bland, unimaginative grey tables. Likewise, providing staff members with designated areas to be quiet and concentrate can also have a positive impact on general productivity. Whilst one individual may work differently from any one of their colleagues, having the option to separate themselves from the ever-present office noise and get in the “zone” to finish an important task can be extremely useful for just about anyone.
Looking to the future
Whilst not every company will be able to accommodate all of these changes on a broad scale (due to size availability, budget constraints, or whatever else) there are still small ways they can introduce biophilic-friendly features that will incrementally bolster the day-to-day wellbeing and productivity of workers going forward.
Biophilic office design is becoming fundamental to the future of our work. Whether designing collaborative office spaces or home offices with a uniquely personal touch, turning to nature is an instinctive approach — and many companies of all sizes around the world are heading in this exact direction.
For more ideas about introducing biophilic design into your office space, speak to the team at Flow today.